Schermerhorn Symphony Center to remove trees, preventing future Purple Martin migration downtown

Replacements to be planted in the next two years
birds at schermerhorn
Posted at 3:01 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 19:55:00-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Visitors to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center are creating a messy and expensive situation.

The last two summers, a massive flock of migrating birds left droppings all over the property.

According to the Nashville Symphony, the birds' previous roost site had been disturbed by tree removal, leading them to choose the Schermerhorn's trees as an ideal place for relocation. This led to excessive bird droppings all over the limestone, and one year, cost more than $60,000 to clean.

"There was bird poop everywhere. On the ground. All over the building. It was really an inescapable experience," said Jonathan Marx, COO of the Nashville Symphony.

The symphony said buildup of the droppings was especially necessary to remove because they posed a public health risk due to it running off into storm sewers.

Recently, the symphony began working with a landscape architect and an urban forester to develop a plan to remove all 41 trees on the property no later than early April.

"It is not operationally sustainable for us to continue to welcome them," Marx said.

Jim Gregory with the Nashville Tree Conservation Corps was disappointed with the decision.

"It was a major disappointment. When I heard of this news, I thought immediately this is a missed opportunity for Nashville. This is something that could make Nashville unique," said Jim Gregory.

The conversation group wishes the Symphony and the city had worked together to capitalize on the birds' migration to the Nashville landmark.

"To me, that's a fund-raising opportunity. And why not have a symphony with the birds once a year? Of course under canopy. Play some of the music that was inspired by birds: Mozart, Haydn," Gregory said.

According to the Symphony, Tennessee Wildlife Federation and The Nature Conservancy confirmed that removing this roosting location should not be harmful to the migrating Purple Martin population because they would be able to find new locations.

The plan is to plant replacements, including Chinese Pistaches, Royal White Redbuds, Sweet Bay Magnolias and Yoshino Cherry trees, in the next year or two.